“Africa!” his mother trumpeted.
He did not reply. He was having too much fun playing with the other calves. Flopping their heads back and forth, swinging their trunks to and fro, and pretending to trip and fall, without actually meeting the ground, face to dirt. This game was the most exciting, and the most played game among the calves. The adults growl, and violently shake their heads, especially when the irritating calves pretend to trip and fall at their feet.
Today was one of those irritating youngster play days. With frustration billowing deep within their guts, the adults sent the calves far away from the watering hole, so that they could bask in the sun peacefully.
“Africa!” his mother trumpeted louder.
He still did not reply.
While he was running around, swinging his trunk at the other calves, he became dizzy from moving his head too quickly, and hit a tree head on. Stars circled above his head like a cartoon.
“Africa!” she trumpeted even louder than before. “Where is that boy?” she muttered to herself.
His mother patiently waited for him to acknowledge her call.
As soon as he was able to focus, and wasn’t seeing doubles any longer, he searched the area for his friends. They were nowhere to be found. His belly grumbled like an unhappy bear. The sun was directly above him. “Lunch time.” he said as he danced, almost prancing in a circle.
He took a few steps towards the watering hole, when he heard faint cries coming from the opposite direction. He paused and pushed his feet into dirt so that he could feel the vibrations of the small voices more clearer, essentially listening with his feet.
“Help! Help!” the tiny voices screamed.
Africa was worried that someone was hurt. He began running towards the cries for help, forgetting to acknowledge his mother’s trumpeting call.
He was having trouble locating the itty-bitty voices. Periodically, he would stop and push his feet into the ground, and call out to them, “Where are you?”
“We are stuck in the smallest baobab tree. It’s the one that part of the tree trunk is horizontal.” One of the small voices replied.
“I know where that is? Wait . . . we? There is more than one of you?” Africa questioned.
“Yes, there are twelve of us,” he answered.
“Twelve of them are stuck in that miniature tree,” he thought. “They must be microscopic creatures,” he said out loud as he made his way towards the tree.
The tree was finally in his sights. Africa began to swing his trunk back and forth in excitement.
Just then the sky turned black and snow began to fall as quickly as a summer rain storm.
“Help! Help!” the little creatures cried. Their panic deepened.
“I’m on my way. I see the tree,” Africa replied calmly, hoping that they would also calm down.
His back was covered in snow as if he had a white blanket laying across his back.
“You’re mice!?” he said surprised.
“Please, don’t be afraid,” the oldest mouse said.
He chuckled, “I’m not afraid.”
The mice danced with joy on top of the roof. One slid right off the pitch and landed into the snow. “Burr,” the mouse said trying to shake the snow off its tiny body.
Africa lowered his trunk to allow the mouse to climb aboard. “Since my back is covered in snow, climb on top of my ear,“ Africa said sweetly.
The mouse climbed on to his trunk. As Africa hoisted the little creature into the air the mouse jumped on top of his head, and sat on the ridge of his ear, dangling it’s tiny feet. Africa moved his trunk towards the remaining mice. “Climb aboard,” he said.
One by one, they made their way to the ridge of his ears.
He then carefully snatched up the mouse house. It was so small, Africa was terrified that he might break it. He was a bit of a klutz. Well, that is what everyone in the herd says. He placed the house on top of his back. “How did your house get stuck in this tree?” he asked the oldest mouse. Africa figured that because he was the oldest mouse, he had to be the wisest.
“Do you recall that gigantic windstorm we had last week?” the oldest mouse said.
“Yes, it was blowing so hard, that it almost blew me over. And that is hard to do. Even though I am young, I’m still a big creature,” he animatedly said.
The mouse giggled.
The snow was falling faster now. All of the mice, excluding the oldest one, had made their way inside the house.
The oldest mouse continued telling his story, “That wind storm had picked up our house and carried it for miles, until it finally dropped us in that tree. We’ve been stuck ever since.”
“You poor creatures.” Sadness crept across Africa’s heart. “I’ll keep you safe,” he said happily.
“Thank you, my dear friend,” the oldest mouse said as he patted the top of Africa’s head.
“Africa!” his mother shouted, and then sent a sub-sonic rumble through the ground.
That got Africa’s attention.
“Oh, I forgot my mother called me,” he said timidly. Africa returned an apologetic, loving sub-sonic rumble, and headed for home with a miniature house on his back. “What a site that must be,” he thought.
His mother spotted Africa in the distance, and noticed that he had something strange on his back, but couldn’t make out what it was exactly.
“Mom! Mom!” Africa trumpeted as he moved his trunk from side to side like he was waving at her.
Her heart raced. She moved towards him to cut his distance in half. “I was so worried about you, Africa.” She grabbed hold of his trunk and held it tight.
“I’m sorry, mom,” he said sadly. “I heard a call for help, and found this house with these mice in it. They were stuck in a baobab tree. The wind picked up the house and carried it for miles. I wanted to help them.” He smiled and pointed his trunk to the house on top of his back. “Can they live with us, please,” he begged, trying not to whine. He knew his mother didn’t appreciate the infantile behavior.
“Yes, of course, they can live with us. Put their house underneath that tree over there. The branches are very low. They will protect them from the sun, weather, and any other dangers. If a ground predator sneaks into their yard, they can climb the branches of the tree to safety,” she replied sweetly.
Africa was so excited that he almost began swinging his trunk, and flopping his head. He quickly remembered that he had a house full of mice on his back, and thought better of it.
As soon as the house was safe under the tree, the mice exited the front door and climbed into the tree branches, scanning the area of their new home.
To welcome the new members of the herd, the elephants trumpeted excitedly, and stomped their feet as if they were engaging in some sort of rain dance. Africa looked to the sky to make certain that it didn’t look like it was going to rain. The mice danced in the branches, and sang ‘la, la, la’ at the top of their lungs.
Smiling brightly, the oldest mouse said, “I am happy that your herd isn’t afraid of mice, like other herds are. And I’m happy that we aren’t going to be buried in snow here.”
“We are happy that you all are apart of our herd now,” Africa said stretching out his trunk for an animal hand shake. “You will be very happy here,” he said as he sat with his new friend watching the herd play in the watering hole.
– Anneberly Andrews –
D. Wallace Peach’s hosts a monthly Speculative Fiction Writing Prompt. February’s prompt was this cute elephant photo. It is definitely worth checking out the submissions, and joining if that is your thing.